Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
"The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few."
Jesus’ words express urgency, a burning desire to reach out to all in desperate need of spiritual direction and true meaning and love in their lives.
And yet Jesus says there are few of his followers who are willing to go out and gather the harvest of souls.
So are we ready to go out two by two and evangelize as disciples?
We need to seriously ponder the missionary example that the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons set for others.
Obviously, we do not reject belief in the Holy Trinity – as do Jehovah’s Witnesses; and we do not believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers – as do the Mormons. But despite their notions of Christianity, look at their devotion and willingness to go out on mission!
Many Mormon missionaries learn a new language as part of their assigned mission and serve voluntarily and do not receive a salary for two years’ ministry.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door and they are required to file a monthly Report. And baptized members who do not submit a report for six consecutive months are termed "inactive".
Can you imagine if we required that??? If we did that????
Interestingly, these religions point to today’s Gospel passage in which Christ sends his disciples out two by two on mission, as the reason for what they do.
Oh, would to God that you and I would be fired up by the Holy Spirit to do the same! Can you imagine the change we could experience in this community alone?! And the diocese!
Now I am not suggesting that we spend all our free time knocking on doors or learning Spanish to spread the gospel….
But – But wait. Why not? Why are so many – too many – Catholics reluctant to share their faith? Or do they even have a faith to share?
Unfortunately many Catholics claim that they do NOT experience God as a personal God! Others admit that they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
Now I realize that many of you do believe and do share your faith. And, like the disciples, we rejoice because our names are written in the book of life in heaven!
But today’s gospel should nudge us out into the fields of the kingdom! We cannot remain casually comfortable any longer.
First of all there are too many casual Christians – and too many empty pews. Our faith is meant to be lived and shared! This is no time to be complacent about our faith. Christianity is meant to be lived and shared!
Our faith is personal, but it can never be private. Jesus never intended that. We are called to be in a real relationship with Christ. And our faith requires an urgent response.
Pope Benedict said: "Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus…." Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter Lumen Fidei, states: “Faith is passed on…by contact, from one person to another (#37)
Many people are looking for a church of believers with passion and compassion. They are looking for a community of love and mercy, people who practice what they believe.
That’s what led me to serve Christ and the Church. I was surrounded by passionate priests, sisters, and lay persons and family members who wanted to be saints. And they wanted me to become a saint. Literally. They loved me with a heavenly compassion.
Yet there are souls in peril all around us. There are people starving for truth! Thirsting for love! There are souls longing for friendship, community! Grace! Mercy! Hope!
You and I have a great responsibility to our community. But we have to do it together! Jesus knew it would not be easy, so he sent his disciples out two by two because we are in this together as a church community!
We must reach out to others and bring the message of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. We can go next door to our neighbors who have no faith, or those across the street who have lost faith, or to those who live in fear, who no longer trust anyone but themselves!
And I believe that if each of us were to live as witnesses to the love of Christ, people would be standing in line to come to Mass here. It’s happened before in the life of our church and the lives of the saints!
So if we seek to be saved, then we must be willing to reach out and seek to save others from our culture of violence and consumerism.
Yes, this could be dangerous, but our Catholic faith isn’t meant to be tidy. Jesus never called us to be safe. He said: I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Sounds dangerous. Indeed. He wants us to die to ourselves and share our lives by taking up our cross daily! Being disciples, we will get some serious splinters from the Cross of Christ!
In fact, as we go out of our way for others, our own body might become bloody, and thereby resemble that of our Lord Jesus. Saint Paul’s life had been so transformed that he wrote: I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.
Yet it is not about what we do. It’s about what Christ can do through us!
So invite someone to Mass next weekend; take a friend on a retreat to deepen your personal relationship with God; or attend daily Mass. You could read a good book like Forming Intentional Disciples or join Community of Praise, go to bible study or join a prayer group, or form one; visit the sick with the Legion of Mary; volunteer with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society; or help at the soup kitchen. Whatever you do, do it with joy!
Pope Francis reminds us that Christianity is about joy! And it is this joy that will attract others to Christ. Joy is what will fill these pews. Joy is what will bring others to happiness with Christ.
And in the joy of the Holy Spirit, life will become an adventure, full of new life. And the Holy Eucharist will give us the strength to do this.
But you do know that this means war. Spiritual war. Yes, Satan has fallen like lightning, but the devil wants to keep you from Christ, and he will use any means to keep you from loving God and from loving your neighbor. He seeks the ruin of souls. But, be not afraid. He’s only the devil.
Always remember to rejoice that our names are written in heaven. And when we do so, we will accept our baptismal call to labor for the Lord, inviting others to the kingdom of salvation so that their names will also be written in heaven.
Trust me, if we don’t evangelize our own people, someone else will.